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Teacup Muffins: Back to the Future

by on May 21, 2012

These were the very first things I baked.


And by that I mean the very first thing I baked as an adult. Adulthood haven being attained with marriage and childbirth. Sure I’d baked the odd cake, cookie even as a child, but none of those count in the newness of being that is adulthood. Something to do with little divide called ‘the teenage years’.

So these muffins launched my baking career back in 2005. The very first time I baked them in teacups and we all fell in love. So much so that I made 3 batches of wholemeal Lemon poppy seed muffins that day, in quick succession.

And that’s why we’re here, talking about muffins in teacups. A recipe from my past that I made last Sunday.


We’re starting a new family tradition of Sunday Brunch. Every Sunday (at least for the last four Sundays), we’ve had something ‘special’ for breakfast. By special I don’t mean luxurious like caviar, or extraordinary like a 6-layer cake. When I say special I mean something we don’t have often or have time for often, or haven’t tasted before, something that causes us to ooh and aah at the breakfast table, that lets us linger long after we’re done eating, mugs and teacups in hand, stories exchanged, memories shared and crumbs on plates.


……So far we’ve done doughnuts and scones, breakfast puffs and last Sunday t’was ‘muffin time.

See, at that point in time (2005), I had never made muffins, and no, I didn’t have a deprived childhood without them – we had cake! So, I didn’t have a muffin tin. Now I’d like to tell you something about Nigerians – they love (big) weddings. As in really, really, really love weddings – in all ramifications.


Now if you’re getting married, there’s rarely a wedding ‘list’/registry (at least 10 years ago when I got married)- you don’t present anyone with a wedding list of things you’d like to have except they’re close friends/family. Loads of guests come. And by that I mean LOADS – we had over 500 people at our ‘small’ wedding. It’s a celebration so people ‘turn out and up’. A lot of gifts you receive will fall into the crockery class. I got’hundreds’ of  drinking glasses and tumblers, Twenty (20), yes twenty dinner sets, a few tea sets and loads of other gifts.


Shortly after our wedding, we moved cities within Nigeria…. And no we didn’t take all those with us. We ended up ‘gifting’ to family and friends though making  sure that we weren’t returning gifts to the sender! Anyway, I did take some teasets with me and so when the desire to make muffins arose, and I didn’t have a muffin tin, guess what I did?

Yep, I whipped out a few teacups and got cracking. I sort of never stopped to consider if they’d stand the heat – the brazenness of youth. And thankfully, they did. The teacups were wonderful little numbers: straight-sided, and not very high with pretty green floral patterns at the base. And the muffins? They tasted wonderful and I ended up trying out a gazillion combinations: Cinnamon, chopped apple and pecan; Cranberry and orange; Plain wholemeal; Coconut and lime and many more.

But then I got refined, I sort of felt like an upgrade was necessary. Afterall I had mastered the art of muffin production and so the search began for a suitable muffin tin began till I got myself a nice metal tin, purchased some paper cases and voila, I was there, or wasn’t I? But that was back then.


Fast forward to 2012, I no longer have a muffin tin and I can’t tell you what happened to that old tin of mine. I now have silicone moulds, all manner of baking and tart tins, dariole moulds, brioche cups, ramekins, baking rings – I could go on and on.

And all of a sudden, I began to long for the past. For the days of teacup muffins.

I got out some pretty teacups, and silicone moulds. Lemons were zested, sugar came out. Wholemeal flour, white flour, poppy seeds, cocoa powder. Chopped chocolate, butter, eggs.

Great Muffins

Makes 10-12 muffins

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely ground wholemeal flour
1  & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 cup thick yogurt/sour cream/creme fraiche, at room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds, or less
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  •  Small handful of blueberries – fresh, freeze-dried or frozen
  • 1/4 cup (Dutch processed) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped chocolate/chocolate chips (milk or dark, your preference) 


Melt the butter in a small pan and cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan till the butter brown and smells nutty – about 8 to 10 minutes then set aside to cool.


Pre-heat the oven to 175 deg C (about 350 deg F), then grease or line your muffin tin, cups, moulds or whatever else you are using.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I split my batter into two so I could make two flavours. One got combined with the cocoa powder and chocolate chunks and the other got the lemon zest and poppy seeds.

In another bowl, whisk together the the sugar, buttermilk, and yogurt (sour cream/creme fraiche) until totally combined. Whisk in the egg, egg yolk, browned butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Split the liquid mixture into two portions.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and start to gently fold it together. For the lemon poppy seed version, when the batter is still quite lumpy and not fully combined, stir in the blueberries, reserving a few to stud the top. Continue to stir gently just until you see no more dry patches. Don’t overmix!

Spoon the batter into the muffin holes, filling each about three-quarters of the way full.


Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a tester inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Let cool for just a minute or two, and then turn them out of the pan quickly (otherwise the bottoms steam) and cool on a cooling rack.


Serve as you will.

I am glad to say that this is muffin heaven – back to the very place we started. The lemon poppy seed muffins were gorgeous, if large – I could only manage a half! The poppy seed provide a great crunch, the wholemeal flour adds a richness and nuttiness to the finished bake, as does the brown butter and the finished product has a fine, tender crumb that is perfect for starting a new family tradition.

I won’t be going back to that tin…..


Have a great week ahead. What are your favourite muffins? Share them please.[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Teacup Muffins: Back to the Future – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]